Monday, March 7, 2011

Angelfire: I couldn't turn the pages fast enough!

This debut, the first novel in a trilogy, is achingly romantic, terrifying, and filled with blistering action.

When seventeen-year-old Ellie starts seeing reapers - monstrous creatures who devour humans and send their souls to Hell - she finds herself on the front lines of a supernatural war between archangels and the Fallen and faced with the possible destruction of her soul.

A mysterious boy named Will reveals she is the reincarnation of an ancient warrior, the only one capable of wielding swords of angelfire to fight the reapers, and he is an immortal sworn to protect her in battle. Now that Ellie's powers have been awakened, a powerful reaper called Bastian has come forward to challenge her. He has employed a fierce assassin to eliminate her - an assassin who has already killed her once.

While balancing her dwindling social life and reaper-hunting duties, she and Will discover Bastian is searching for a dormant creature believed to be a true soul reaper. Bastian plans to use this weapon to ignite the End of Days and to destroy Ellie's soul, ending her rebirth cycle forever. Now, she must face an army of Bastian's most frightening reapers, prevent the soul reaper from consuming her soul, and uncover the secrets of her past lives - including truths that may be too frightening to remember.

Book Review

Title: Angelfire
Author: Courtney Allison Moulton
Publisher: HarperCollins
Publication Date: February 15, 2011

My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Angelfire by Courtney Allison Moulton is one of the best angel books I've read in years, and I've read A LOT of them. The only other angel book on the same level is Cynthia Hand's Unearthly, which is also stellar. With Angelfire, it's like Moulton had a check list of what makes a great young adult book and seamlessly blended all of these components together into this sensational debut novel. I was hooked from the first chapter and couldn't stop reading--it was another "wee hours of the morning" finish because this book was THAT GOOD.

There are so many cliches in young adult paranormal fiction these days, and Moulton has an antidote for all of them. Tired of weak, whimpering heroines? You will LOVE Ellie. She's the perfect balance of mad battle skills and heart. Wondering why every teenager has to have absent parents? Ellie and her mother share a close, loving relationship. Yes, youth of today, it's okay to love your mom. Creeped out by centuries-old guys falling in love with teenage girls? Well, Ellie's soul's pretty old, too. Annoyed by girls throwing themselves at obsessive, stalker guys? Ellie totally calls Will on it and actually shows a healthy level of suspicion. After reading about one too many TSTL heroines this year, Angelfire was refreshing and original.

Frustrated by book series holding their cards too closely and providing no answers? (I'm looking at you, Fallen.) Well, Moulton's perfect mix of answers and mystique creates a well-developed, intriguing mythology for her series. And thank you, Courtney, for NO CLIFFHANGER. Angelfire's ending is my favorite kind for a book in a series--there's a satisfying resolution to this book's conflict with just enough unanswered questions and mystery to have you clamoring for the sequel. AND I AM CLAMORING.

And that romantic tension? You'd need to use one of Ellie's Khopesh swords to slash through it. I was about to say this is where Moulton really shines, but then I remembered her action scenes (which are brilliant, and I don't even really like action scenes), so I suppose Moulton is equally brilliant at writing heart-aching romantic tension and gripping action scenes. Moulton's pacing for Ellie and Will's relationship is fantastic. I loved seeing Ellie fall in love with Will (none of this "I love you for no reason other than I happened to see you from across the hall" for our heroine), and Moulton's use of flashbacks was captivating. This book oozes and seethes with romantic tension, and it kept me coming back chapter after chapter waiting for the moment when Ellie and Will would FINALLY kiss. So, so, so worth the wait.

Although I was a little thrown by the big reveal about Ellie near the end of the book (I definitely did not see that coming and I'm not crazy about that development) I cannot wait to see these characters again. Intriguing mythology, well-crafted characters, riveting action, and captivating romance combine into one thrill-ride of a novel that grips your heart and doesn't let go.

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